Saturday, Dec. 19
#4 Ohio State
11 a.m. CT
Lucas Oil Stadium
Radio: AM-720 WGN Radio
EVANSTON, Ill. – The Northwestern Wildcats will play in their second Big Ten Championship Game Saturday, facing the Ohio State Buckeyes for the second time in the last three years at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. CST on FOX and WGN 720.
NU defeated its in-state rival Illinois for the sixth-straight time last week (the longest streak it has ever had against Illinois), compiling over 400 rushing yards off the shoulders of reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week Cam Porter (142 yards) and Evan Hull (149 yards). The Wildcats’ victory over the Illini marked the program’s first undefeated season at Ryan Field in nearly 25 years (1996).
The 2018 Big Ten Championship Game was the first meeting in Indianapolis between the Buckeyes and Wildcats, where OSU emerged with a 45-24 victory. Former NU running back John Moten IV ran for a 77-yard touchdown in the first quarter, which at the time tied for the second-longest rush in Big Ten Championship Game history. Current senior linebackers Paddy Fisher and Blake Gallagher recorded a combined 19 total tackles, with Fisher producing a team-high of 11.
Saturday’s game will mark the sixth time in 10 years that Ohio State will be featured in the Big Ten Championship, including its fourth straight appearance. The Buckeyes have not played since Dec. 5 when they defeated the Michigan State Spartans 52-15 in East Lansing, Mich. Their annual tilt against Michigan was canceled last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the Wolverine program.
Hammerin’ Hank(witz): Northwestern’s defense finished tied for second in the country in points allowed per game (14.6). Led by defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz, the Wildcats were one of only three Power-5 teams (Wisconsin and Iowa) to be ranked in the top-10 in scoring defense. Northwestern ranked ahead of College Football Playoff contenders such as Alabama (11th), Notre Dame (12th) and Clemson (15th) in that category as well.
Ground and Pound: The Wildcats produced 411 rushing yards on 58 attempts against Illinois last week, the most in a single game since NU ran for 444 yards against the Illini on Nov. 22, 2003. Northwestern’s seven yards per play on offense was its most since Sept. 16, 2017 against Bowling Green.
Owning the West: Northwestern defeated all of its Big Ten West opponents for the second time in the last three seasons. NU’s 17 victories in their division since 2017 is the most in the conference. Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald and Co. earned a winning percentage of .750 in conference play for the fourth time since 2015, which ties for second most in the B1G.
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LOGO COURTESY BIG TEN CONFERENCE
GAME PREVIEW COURTESY NORTHWESTERN ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS